Chances are, you’re reading this on a smartphone right now and it hasn’t been 5 minutes since you last checked your Instagram/Snapchat/Twitter feed. Chances also are that you’ve heard the stories of the young whizkids who built those apps and became instant millionaires, and dreamed up a million app ideas you could implement if only you could code. What if I told you it was possible to get an app up and running in a relatively short timespan in spite of your current handicap? It may sound too good to be true, but if you’re willing to make some relatively small time and financial investments, and follow a few careful steps, you would be amazed at what you could accomplish.
In order to build a killer app, you obviously have to have a killer idea in mind. Ideas for successful apps have come from all sorts of inspirations, from careful deliberations on how to improve people’s lives to figuring out ways to solve the best first world problems. There isn’t a clear blueprint for coming up with a creative idea, but it helps to think of problems that you personally have or that you observe, and think of innovative ways to solve the problem. It’s important to keep in mind that the solution you come up with might not necessarily involve an app, so only focus on the ideas for which an app is the best possible solution.
Once you’ve come up with an idea you have, get on all the popular app stores (and search engines) and look up all apps that may have the same concepts and names to yours. Be sure to also search for all apps that are trying to solve similar problems/are in the same niche as yours. If you find these, use them for a while to gain knowledge of the user experience and to try to figure out things you can improve on and incorporate in your own app. Don’t fret if the idea for some of these apps is the same as yours — some of the most successful apps have taken existing concepts and reimagined them with better workflows/design/user experience.
Once you’ve done your research on what’s available and thought about what you want your app to look like, it’s time to sketch your wireframes. This is something you can do with a variety of tools, from just simple hand drawn sketches to a bunch of free and paid software options you can use with little design experience. The wireframes you create don’t have to be elaborate from a design point of view — they just have to be sufficient to map out the workflows for your app, and be lucid enough to give yourself/a developer a clear idea of what you have in mind for your design. Mapping out the workflows in this way may also help you gain clarity and refine aspects of your app idea.
Be sure to check out the next installment in this series to figure out how to go about turning your idea into a real app!